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BAA Voluntary Program Gives a ‘POP’ to Performance Updates

April 25, 2019

By Kelsey Pope, Freelance Writer

With data comes knowledge, and with knowledge comes power. The Braunvieh Association of America (BAA) is adding power to its numbers with an exceptional performance option program that is allowing members to enroll cattle voluntarily in its performance reporting system at a lower cost, which is proving to provide more genetic data and information to members. It’s a win-win.

Prior to nine years ago, BAA had a Total Herd Reporting (THR) system in place that was a mandatory reporting system. It was $27 per head for every animal, and included registration fees. However, it was viewed unfavorably by some members, so the BAA Board of Directors made a decision to move away from THR to a pay-as-you-go system for breeders to register their calves each year. But this still wasn’t working well with the members who saw the benefit in a THR-type of reporting system.

One year later, the Performance Option Program (POP) was started as a completely voluntary, inventory-based national program for Braunvieh cattle. While different breeders recognize the importance of cattle performance information differently, it is vital to the Association that all performance data acquired from BAA members be collected in a uniform and meaningful manner. The POP program is designed to: 1) allow BAA members to choose whether or not they will collect performance data on their herd; 2) provide a uniform and meaningful system for data collection; 3) receive funding only from the users of the program; and 4) return performance calculations from the data only to the users of the program.

Jerry Jernigan, Jernigan Farms in Auburn, Ky., and past member of the BAA Board of Directors, helped create the program.

“Breeders should have all of their cattle enrolled in POP and it will function as it was intended; it’s like THR but without the mandatory reporting and payments,” Jernigan said.

For six years, the POP program has been functioning as a voluntary program, allowing members to enroll their animals for only $5 per head with reduced registration rates, free or reduced transfer fees and no requirement to renew the animal annually. If an animal is enrolled in POP, its offspring can be registered for as little as $20 per head, as opposed to $30 per head in the pay-as-you-go option.

Jernigan believes if members are fully utilizing POP, they need to enroll all of their cows – not just the best ones – and report performance updates to get more information for the contemporary group.

“You can realize a return by using POP to register your cattle,” Jernigan noted. “But for members to get the full benefits, they should have all animals enrolled in the program to get more accurate feedback.”

There are six types of animals that can be enrolled in the program: BAA registered females, females registered with another breed association, unregistered females, bulls, embryo transfer and cloned calves and multiple-sire calves.

POP helps to better highlight superior animals in the herd if members provide more data on all animals, which gives a true representation of the herd. By submitting more data, members don’t accumulate more fees. Complete reporting on all enrolled females also improves the accuracy and reliability of BAA Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs) by removing reporting bias from performance ratios and EPDs.

“POP is helping our breed association with the ability to offer more EPDs,” Jernigan said. “The more data that is provided for each contemporary group, the more able we are to include maternal-based EPDs with more and consistent data.”

Fertility and cow cost EPDs, as well as other selection tools, are easier to develop and more reliable with complete reporting. For females enrolled in POP, new EPDs will be calculated annually, as long as the female remains enrolled.

One of the main differentiators between THR and POP is an annual fee on non-producing females. If a cow loses a calf or doesn’t have a calf in her production year, but the breeder still keeps her in the herd, the breeder can provide a reason code to keep her enrolled in POP. If no calf record or reason code is given within 730 days of the birth date of the last known calf, she will be removed from enrollment from POP, but not assessed any fees. She may be re-enrolled when/if she has her next calf.  If not enrolled in POP, the female will still have EPDs, but no new progeny information will be added into the calculations.  With the former THR program, the breeder would have paid fees on a cow every year for her to remain active. If the fees were not paid or the animal was removed from the role for any reason, it, in a sense, was no longer registered. In the POP program, even if the cow falls out of the POP program, she is still active in the BAA herdbook.

Members are also encouraged to enroll their recipient and foster dams in POP. Future enhancements to the BAA National Cattle Evaluations may allow the inclusion of performance information on ET and multiple-birth calves.

“POP has been under-utilized by many members,” Jernigan concluded. “There are no repercussions from using POP like there would be with a THR program, so we would like breeders to see the advantages of better identifying the superior animals in their herd, reporting data on all of their animals and seeing the positive benefits of offering more data and EPDs.”

Learn more about the POP program at here. Contact the BAA Office at (210) 561-2892 or baaoffice@braunvieh.org with any questions.

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